Molalla boys fall short in semis
The Molalla High boys soccer team have proven to be something of a road warrior squad during the Class 4A playoffs, but the toll the road takes may have caught up to them Nov. 9.
The 12th seeded Indians saw their playoff run come to a stop in the semifinals with a 4-3 loss at Hidden Valley. Only once has a lower seeded team reached the semifinals since rankings were created in 2010, and that was in 2018 when a 13th seed got that far.
"All the boys were really disappointed to not get the win," coach Ryan Gates said. "It was just one bridge too far to go on the road for three games, spend 24 hours in a bus, and try to get three wins in a row.
"I am so proud of my team," he added. "They didn't quit and had a chance to do something special â€“ no, they did something special."
The Indians didn't go down without a fight, taking the lead in the first half on a Tony Morfin goal.
"We continued to put pressure on them and got a second from Evan Hugo," Gates said.
With all the momentum running through the Molalla squad, a poor clearance late in the first half opened the door for Hidden Valley to climb back into the match, converting the chance for a goal.
"Seconds into the second half we gave up the second (goal)," Gates said. "It was a PK (penalty kick) after a through ball was not cleared and my keeper bundled into the attacker."
Hidden Valley would put two more goals into the net later in the second half for a 4-2 lead, but Molalla wasn't quite finished.
"With 20 minutes left, my team never quit and scored with about 15 minutes left," Gates said. "We had chances after that, but they played super defense and saw the game out for the win."
Molalla's season wasn't without challenges, but they were able to overcome them and put together a nice run through the playoffs. The Indians finished 5-2-3 in Tri-Valley Conference play, 9-6-3 overall this season. Molalla hadn't lost since Oct. 11 before the state semifinals, snagging five wins and three draws in that span. They also put together a three-game win streak in the playoffs, beating Junction City in a play-in game (6-0), then handling Valley Catholic 3-0 and Henley 5-3 in road state playoff matches.
"To fall short is all we remember right now but a few years from now all the boys will look back and remember this magical season where an underdog almost took down all of the Goliaths," Gates said. "It was one of the most memorable seasons I have ever been a part of, and I am going to miss every single minute of it."
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